Montreal, a couple of hours before Bradley Ertaskiran’s very first opening night.
BY: Eve Thomas
PHOTOS BY: Richmond lam
The co-founders of Bradley Ertaskiran are experiencing minor technical issues. Megan Bradley is standing before a large flat-screen monitor in the middle of the gleaming white gallery, while Antoine Ertaskiran checks his laptop, steps away. They’re troubleshooting Disasters Under the Sun, a video piece by Montreal artist Jon Rafman, known for his digital works featuring Google Street View and Second Life. Behind the screen hangs a geometric triptych by Canadian photographer and Guggenheim fellow Jessica Eaton. They’re two of the eight artists whose works make up the gallery’s inaugural group show, Cause à effet.
The vernissage begins in about two hours, but neither gallerist appears overly stressed. They are both used to unforgiving deadlines: Each closed their respective Montreal gallery just weeks ago, and Ertaskiran moved to Bradley’s much larger space in the Saint-Henri neighbourhood after it underwent some vital renovations.
“Before joining forces to create this Canadian hub for contemporary art, the co-owners travelled in the same circles.”
“I’d been dying to cover the wooden columns for a while,” says Bradley, gesturing to a freshly painted white pillar. Above her, gargantuan air vents and wooden ceiling slats remain from the building’s early life as an industrial laundry. Other than that, the ground floor space has been reinvented as a “white cube” so that, in her words, the artworks can speak for themselves. Curating the gallery’s collection was easy for the duo. Before joining forces to create this Canadian hub for contemporary art, the co-owners travelled in the same circles, as peers, friends and (occasionally) competitors.
“I would be at an international art fair going after a particular artist and be like, ‘Oh no, he got them first!’” says Bradley.
“Same,” confesses Ertaskiran with a laugh. His previous gallery was in nearby Griffintown, and he remarks that both boroughs have been experiencing a palpable cultural renaissance over the past decade or so. Where there were once factories and warehouses, Bradley Ertaskiran’s neighbours now include sleek housing developments, tech hubs and some of the top-rated restaurants in the country, including Joe Beef and Nora Gray.
Not everything in the gallery is shiny and new, however. Downstairs, visitors will need to crouch down to pass through a windowless hallway and emerge into a second space, called “the bunker.” There, Montrealer Nicolas Grenier’s solo show, Positions, contrasts oversized blue and red paintings and custom-built panels against the uneven cement walls. The gallerists say he had the option of showing upstairs but that the basement space appealed to him, adding that some artists want something experimental, unconventional and maybe even a bit risky. They, of course, know this feeling.
Visit the gallery online at bradleyertaskiran.com